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IIHS Raises Standards, Announces 2018 Top Safety Picks

IIHS Raises Standards, Announces 2018 Top Safety Picks

By Joseph Dobrian, December 08, 2017
Reflecting tougher standards introduced this year, only 15 new-vehicle models qualify for the coveted “Top Safety Pick+” (TSP+) award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). According to the Institute, the requirements for those awards now include “Good” ratings (the Institute’s highest classification) for headlights, and “Good” or “Acceptable” ratings for passenger-side protection in small overlap front crashes.

Another 47 vehicles qualify for the lesser “Top Safety Pick” award, which now requires “Acceptable” or “Good” headlight ratings. Passenger-side crash tests are included for the first time, on the grounds that some manufacturers, in the IIHS’s view, were paying insufficient attention to the passenger side even though they had been improving their performances in the driver-side small overlap front test ever since IIHS began rating vehicles for protection in small overlap crashes, in 2012.

“Drivers expect that their passengers, who are often family, will be protected just as well as they are,” says IIHS President Adrian Lund. “Manufacturers have been taking this issue seriously since we first shed light on it, and we're confident that good small overlap protection will become the norm on the passenger side, just as it has on the driver side.”

The IIHS has been publishing headlight ratings since March 2016. At first, few vehicles performed well in IIHS track tests, which measure how well low beams and high beams illuminate the road ahead, as well as the amount of glare they produce for drivers of oncoming vehicles.

“Headlights have long been treated as design elements instead of the critical safety equipment that they are,” Lund says. “We're pleased to see this changing. Every one of the 62 award winners for 2018 is available with headlights that are at least acceptable.”

The 15 TSP+ winners include four small cars, three midsize cars, five large luxury cars, two midsize non-luxury SUVs, and one midsize luxury SUV. No minivans, pickups, or minicars earn the highest award. Models from a wider range of vehicle types (but no minicars) earn a Top Safety Pick award.

Hyundai, which owns the Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis badges, wins six TSP+ awards this year. Subaru wins four; Mercedes-Benz wins two; Toyota, BMW, and Ford win one each. Toyota boasts 10 Top Safety Pick awards, and Hyundai nine.

All but one of the seven vehicles in Subaru's 2018 lineup earn one of the awards. The Impreza, Legacy, Outback, and WRX qualify for TSP+ when equipped with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights. The Crosstrek and the Forester earn Top Safety Picks, also with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights. The BRZ—co-developed with Toyota—is the only Subaru model that doesn't qualify.

The IIHS is an independent, non-profit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries, and property damage from vehicle crashes. The Institute is wholly supported by auto insurers. The IIHS has been recognizing vehicles with Top Safety Pick awards since the 2006 model year to help consumers identify vehicles with the highest safety ratings without having to wade through information about individual tests. The IIHS introduced the Top Safety Pick+ award for the 2013 model year to recognize vehicles that offer a superior level of safety. Over the years, IIHS has added to and strengthened criteria for both awards, which the Institute says has pushed manufacturers to speed up safety advances.

“The improvements in occupant protection have been amazing over the past decades,” says Lund. “All automakers now recognize the important role of safety in consumer choice, and they are increasingly receptive to working with our engineers to understand the next steps in keeping people from harm in motor vehicle crashes and to make real changes in their vehicle designs.”

The following vehicles qualify for 2018 Top Safety Pick+ awards, which require:

  • Good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests
  • Acceptable or Good rating in the passenger-side small overlap front test
  • Advanced or Superior rating for front crash prevention
  • Good headlight rating


Small cars
Kia Forte (sedan only)
Kia Soul
Subaru Impreza
Subaru WRX

Midsize cars
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Toyota Camry

Large luxury cars
BMW 5 Series
Genesis G80
Genesis G90
Lincoln Continental
Mercedes-Benz E-Class (sedan only)

Midsize SUVs
Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Midsize luxury SUV
Mercedes-Benz GLC

For more information on the IIHS 2018 Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick award winners, visit: http://www.iihs.org

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